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St Anne Line
Catholic Infant School & Nursery

Love Learn Pray

Number Lines

Number Lines

To help children develop a sound understanding of numbers and to be able to use them confidently in their calculations, there needs to be careful progression in their use of number tracks and number lines. This strongly develops a linear understanding of numbers and provides support for mental calculations as the children are then able to mentaly visualise a number line.


Learning Pathway for Number Lines:

Number Tracks

To begin, children start saying the numbers in order forwards and backwards, on a number track to 10.  They then start from different places on the number track – not always 1, or 10. To develop subitising children will place an amount of objects such as counters, onto the number track to support their counting and understanding of cardinality. 


Number Line - Fully Labelled

The children then move on to using a number line, where all the numbers are labelled. 

We place emphasis on learning the TEEN numbers. 


Using a number line

There is a natural progression from basic counting forwards and backwards to addition and subtraction where children realise they do not need to always begin counting at 1 . The use of the number line is key to accelerate this progression. Children calculating 3 + 4 , often count 1,2,3 then continue to count on 4 more. We use the number line (all numbers labelled) to show addition and subtraction, encouraging the children to start with the biggest number first.


Number Line - Odd and Even

Children explore skip counting in 2’s and understanding odd and even numbers. The use of a number line is important for children to visualise the numbers that are skipped during these counting patterns.

Number Line - 5’s & 10’s labelled

Children then learn to skip count in 5s and 10s. Skip counting forms the basis for multiplication. A number line can be very helpful to support this


Number line - 10’s labelled

We use a number line where 10s are labelled and estimate where other numbers lie.


Unlabelled number line with hatch marks

Children will explore these number lines by labelling their own numbers. Estimating where other numbers lie.  They can use these number lines to support addition and subtraction of larger two digits numbers without the need for long number lines. For example when calculating 87 - 5. Children can label the furthest hatch mark as 87.


Empty Number Line - no numbers or hatch marks

Finally, an empty number line is introduced for jottings when children are performing calculations where it is difficult to keep all information in their heads.   They can label numbers and/or jumps as they need. Children will be taught to sketch a horizontal line as a written method to support their calculations.